How Mindfulness Helps Us Lead Fuller, Happier Lives

"True life" begins when we are fully present, said Thich Nhat Hanh.
Geri Lavrov via Getty Images

When we think about happiness and success, many of us turn our attention to some distant horizon where our hopes and aspirations lie. But according to Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, true happiness begins with mindfulness and mindfulness begins in the present moment.

A new documentary featuring Hanh, called "Mindfulness: Be Happy Now," shares what producer and director Larry Kasanoff describes as a "non-denominational message" for people interested in learning more about the life-altering practice.

"When you still your mind and get all the chatter out of it, you're happy," Kasanoff told The Huffington Post. "Reduce fear, anxiety and worry in your life, and what's left is happiness."

Alongside Thich Nhat Hanh, in the documentary, are other thought leaders like Deepak Chopra, actress Sharon Stone, psychiatrist Blaise Aguirre, Buddhist nun Sister Chân Không and Cesar Millan, known as the "Dog Whisperer." What unites these men and women from disparate fields is the conviction that mindfulness has the power to make us happier, more fulfilled and better prepared for any situation that might arise in life.

Kasanoff, who has worked primarily on action and sci-fi films like "Mortal Kombat" and "Terminator 2," said he has studied and practiced mindfulness for over ten years. The goal of the documentary was to share the practice of mindfulness with those who might not know where to start.

"You don't have to sit under a tree and be a monk to do this," Kasanoff said. "I think mindfulness is just doing one thing at a time, and that's it. You can do a hundred things during the day, but just do them one at a time and be present in the moment."

The practice of mindfulness can be as simple as drinking a cup of tea and bringing our awareness back to the body, Hanh described in the film.

"When you drink like that you drink not only with your body, but you drink also with your mind," Hanh said. "In that moment there is true life."

We invite you to try out Thich Nhat Hanh's mindful drinking exercise and enjoy these morsels of wisdom from the documentary below:

Julien Grondin

“What you do with mindfulness is you pay attention to what is and what isn’t in this present moment.” --Dr. Blaise Aguirre

“It’s a training to remember that in us there is that ability to be very peaceful, very understanding, very loving.” --Sister Chân Không

Gary John Norman

“Mindfulness is the capacity to be truly there in the here and the now in order for you to get in touch with the wonders of life, so that you can truly live your life.” --Thich Nhat Hanh

Aaron McCoy

“If you don’t have peace, you cannot offer peace. If you don’t have calm, you cannot offer calm. If you don’t have compassion, you cannot offer compassion. Therefore you have to walk your talk. You have to do it for you first.” --Thich Nhat Hanh

“We should be listening to each other… Often it’s little things that we misinterpret and we go into fight, flight [or] avoidance between you and I. We don’t go into surrender. But once we listen we understand.” --Cesar Millan


“The bottom line is that mindfulness is a cleaner, side effect free way to longer term mental health [and] stability.” --Dr. Blaise Aguirre

“When you breathe in mindfully, or when you take a step mindfully, you realize the miracle of being alive. That miracle can happen in every moment.” --Thich Nhat Hanh

Roman Sigaev

“When you are mindful, you enjoy more. You are truly there, and you live more deeply every moment of your daily life. And that’s not hard work -- that is very pleasant.” --Thich Nhat Hanh

Ezra Bailey

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